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Does Barnaby Joyce actually deliver for regional Australia?

The line being very strongly pushed by the Nationals is that Barnaby Joyce “delivers for regional and rural Australia like nobody else”.

But is it true?

After the 2013 election, Tony Windsor spoke to Barnaby Joyce about continuing the campaign for funding for Armidale Hospital. Barnaby’s response was informative in showing who he cares about.

‘You know, Tony, until you had decided not to run I had the money for the Armidale Hospital, as well as funding for the Legume to Woodenbong Road.’

‘When you were still the member and running,’ he said, ‘Abbott’s office said we could have a range of things, including $50 million for the hospital. But when you didn’t run they withdrew the money for the hospital and the road.’

Why waste money on the people when you have it in the bag, eh Barnaby. Let the states foot the bill and then you just turn up to cut the ribbon.

Then there is the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Barnaby isn’t fussed about any of that silly environmental stuff.

As he told the boys at the pub about the deal he struck with Turnbull, “We have taken water, put it back into agriculture, so we could look after you and make sure we don’t have the greenies running the show basically sending you out the back door, and that was a hard ask.”

So Barnaby gets the water portfolio and when Four Corners expose how the whole system is being rorted, the Minister couldn’t care less. Rort some more he tells the boys.

Or we could talk about the NBN.

Armidale is benefiting from its fibre to the premise NBN rollout secured by Tony Windsor, while the rest of the electorate has been lumbered with the fibre to the node crap that Barnaby’s mob think will be just fine.

Then there’s jobs.

In March last year, it was reported that “The New England North West has earned the unenviable title as the region with the highest percentage of unemployed people NSW.”

“Across the New England North West almost 10,000 people are on Centrelink welfare payments – excluding students and apprentices – while the youth unemployment rate sits at 14.8 per cent.”

Joyce’s attempt to move the pesticides regulatory authority to his electorate has been an unmitigated disaster that, far from providing jobs, will probably have to be staffed by imported workers.

On renewable energy, Barnaby’s stance inside and outside his electorate are two entirely different things.

In July last year, Barnaby broke out his hard hat and shovel to pose for photos signalling the start of construction at the 20MW White Rock solar farm near Glen Innes, just as the first turbines from the neighbouring 175MW White Rock wind farm began producing into the grid.

“It is positive news for the New England Electorate that the White Rock Solar Farm project construction is now commencing,” Joyce said in a statement, noting the $5.4 million provided by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (which the Coalition had tried to abolish).

“The Federal Coalition government supports renewables and has a legislated and efficient renewable energy target so supporting projects like the White Rocks Solar Farm shows that the Federal government is serious about supporting renewable energy production to help secure the national grid.”

“With other projects like the Sapphire Wind Farm going ahead, it also shows that the New England is leading the way in renewable energy production and I will continue to advocate for the region as a growing power supplier for Australia,” Joyce said in his statement.

Come September, in a speech at the Minerals Week Seminar, Joyce issued a rousing call to arms to Australia’s mining and resources industry, warning that if they lose the fight for new coal-fired power generation, they are opening the door for the rest of the industry to fall victim to the “fatuous economics” of renewable energy and green groups.

(“In the) Galilee Basin, we are in the fight of our lives trying to open up a mechanism that will create wealth for this nation. Total insanity!” he said.

When Greg Hunt approved the $1.2bn Shenhua coal mine on farmland in Barnaby’s electorate, Joyce made some token noise, as one would expect from someone who purports to represent farmers, but was ineffectual in stopping the approval from going ahead.

When Barnaby talks about his new interest, infrastructure, it sounds like a mix between Lucky Starr’s “I’ve been everywhere” and Romper Room’s magic mirror as his constituents wait to hear their hamlet mentioned.

In April 2016, the Grattan Institute produced a report finding that infrastructure spending “has been marred by large amounts being funnelled into questionable transport projects in marginal electorates.”

This was confirmed by the former Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester (elbowed out of the way because Barnaby wanted his job), who said the history of short-term election sweeteners with no long-term planning was further eroding the electorate’s faith in the system.

Despite being on a safe seat of more than 30 per cent, Mr Joyce has the third highest rate of funding in the country, taking in $28 million since 2014.

In the lead up to the New England bylection in December, his electorate received a $2 million grant for a landing system at Tamworth Airport, following a $500,000 grant for an aged care facility in July and an $8.5 million boost for a new equestrian, athletics, cycling centre and indoor sporting centre in August.

It has also been revealed by the chief executive of the Australian Rail Track Corporation, John Fullerton, that Barnaby’s boondoggle, the inland freight rail, won’t generate enough revenue to cover its capital cost.

If Barnaby didn’t understand the urgent need to address climate change when he was Minister for Agriculture and Water, he might get a better idea when he gets the bill for the costs of replacing infrastructure destroyed by extreme weather events.

His supporters, the 8 of them, say Barnaby is a great retail politician.

Well he’s sure good on the con. Consequences? Not so much.


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  1. Terry2

    Thanks for that Kaye Lee, brilliant research as always.

    Barnaby the best retail politician in the coalition: whatever does that mean or is it just more spin from the media managers among which was Vikki although she’s on maternity leave at the moment.

    You know, I have been thinking about the odd anomaly in our democratic arrangements when it comes to the coalition. Doesn’t it seem strange to you that the leader of this country, our Prime Minister, doesn’t have the power to sack his deputy, he can’t even discipline his deputy according to Barnaby.

    Then you have the squirrel grip that the rabid right wing of the coalition hold on our Prime Minister, you have to wonder is this Prime Minister merely a figure-head, a puppet who doesn’t even gain any authority from the Constitution ?

    Very odd state of affairs !

  2. ajogrady

    The inequality in Australia is evident on a daily basis under the governance of the L/NP. Every thing wrong with Australia is because of the L/NP policies and leadership. Everything bad for Australians is because of L/NP policies and leadership. The Abbott / Turnbull government deservedly gets a lot of blame for Australia and Australians woes and problems but the little master of all that effects Australia and also the Abbott / Turnbull government was created by John Howard.

  3. helvityni

    What is he delivering? More babies…

    What does ‘retail politician’ mean ? He certainly seems to DRINK a lot of beer, he’s buying it , not selling…

  4. johno

    @helvityni..he is selling our water with dodgy deals.
    @ajogrady.. John Howard was in way way tooooo long.

  5. diannaart

    Barnaby Joyce the The World’s Greatest Retail Politician… on sale now .. no price too high or integrity too low… Barnaby Joyce going cheap… going… away?

    Of course if Tony Windsor had run for New England none of this would’ve happened… like Labor and/or the Greens wrecking everything – especially when they are not in power.

    .. and now for some real news…


  6. Carol Taylor

    Kaye Lee, you’ve explained to me one of the reasons why the good folk of New England continue to support Barnaby.. it’s because he is (unsurprisingly) prone to hypocrisy. It seems as if he’s always wearing the same hat, but he changes it as soon as he’s away from New England. Support a wind farm, support the coal industry, just put on a different hat to suit the occasion.

  7. Carol Taylor

    Helvityni, I suspect by “retail” that Barnaby’s supporters mean that he can sell whatever cr*p is on offer. Value for money..irrelevant. Quality control..nonexistent. As long as you can sell, sell, sell, that’s all that matters.

  8. lawrencewinder

    Under this ruling rabble the only thing that doesn’t weep for its condition is the Murray / Darling.
    While these mongrels bleed the country dry and without conscience rort all they can from entitlements they now “plan” things instead of actually doing anything to benefit the country. What a mess.

  9. Ricardo29

    Kaye Lee Thanks for answering the question I have been asking for some time. Now what about a look at poor Vikki, blameless victim in this whole debacle, or street smart, mature woman well able to fend for herself in the Dog-eat-Dog world of political spin doctoring? Or naive enough to fall for a beetrooter 17 years older than her?

  10. jimhaz

    Retail politician infers that he is only good at selling himself to a certain group willing or gullible enough to buy it.

    In including the adjective Abbott was in fact saying that he was not at all skilled in strategy and as a manager.

  11. Kaye Lee


    Had Barnaby, on realising he had fallen in love with another woman, gone and told his wife, it would be a private matter. If Vikki, on realising she had fallen in love with her boss, recognised the conflict of interest and resigned, it would be a private matter.

    But they didn’t.

    If Vikki had been moved to Canavan’s office in a different month, it might be believable that she was seconded for a special task. But April was the month that Natalie Joyce publicly tore strips off Campion, calling her a homewrecker. Yet Canavan denies any knowledge of the affair, sticking to the line that she performed some unnamed “special task” for which she was eminently qualified.

    Canavan stood down on July 25 at which time Campion temporarily went back to Joyce’s office. Their baby is due in April, which is 9 months after July.

    She then went briefly to Drum’s office, who also denies any knowledge of the affair at the same time as saying he was told it was over.

    By October, Vikki was off on paid stress leave. Were we paying for her to hide her baby bump whilst Barnaby campaigned?

    In December, she got a redundancy payout from a job that didn’t exist which probably explains why she didn’t just resign. You get a stack more money if they make you redundant.

    After Barnaby was ruled ineligible, he stuck his hand out and took money from the Nationals Party. He also asked his millionaire mate for free accommodation. Because he couldn’t possibly be asked to pay for anything himself.

    His laziness in not even bothering to check his citizenship cost us millions in court cases and another election.

    Barnaby would like to paint himself as the victim of a witch hunt.


  12. Freethinker

    At the end of the IMHO it is not that he is a good Retail Politician, it is not that he has behave inappropriate (for us) it is that he is a representative of his electorate with a 70% approval because people identifying with him, for what he it is.
    The immense gap between him and Windsor regarding character, policies and behavior only can reinforce my view and what is the people choice.

  13. Graham Houghton

    Sing to the tune of ‘I am a Pirate King’ from Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Pirates of Penzance’:

    Oh, better far to drink and lie
    Under parliamentary privilege’s eye,
    Than play a just and honest part,
    With a pious head and a pious heart.
    Away to the cheating world go I,
    Where the pious all are well-to-do;
    But I’ll be true to the song I sing,
    And live and die a Pious King.

    For I am a Pious King!
    And it is, it is a glorious thing
    To be a Pious King!

    For I am a Pious King!

    You are!
    Hurrah for our Pious King!

    And it is, it is a glorious thing
    To be a Pious King.

    It is!
    Hurrah for our Pious King!
    Hurrah for the Pious King!

    When I sally forth to seek my prey
    I help myself in a royal way.
    I sink a few more beers, it’s true,
    Than a well-bred monarch ought to do;
    But many a king on a first-class throne,
    If he wants to call his crown his own,
    Must manage somehow to get through
    More dirty work than ever I do,

    For I am a Pious King!
    And it is, it is a glorious thing
    To be a Pious King!

    For I am a Pious King!

    You are!
    Hurrah for the Pious King!

    And it is, it is a glorious thing
    To be a Pious King.

    It is!
    Hurrah for our Pious King!

    Hurrah for our Pious King!

  14. Joe

    Great article Kaye Lee, pity this (or at least an extract) is not published in newspapers across the NE electorate. Especially the 3rd and 4th paragraphs

  15. Frank Smith

    Very good Graham!

    I find it alarming that Turnbull spun and obfuscated questions related to Baaarnababy’s behavior all through Question Time last week and refused to directly answer whether he had confidence in his Deputy on numerous occasions. Then, immediately the Parliamentary sitting week is over he calls ” a presser” and rips into Baaarnababy, excoriating him for his behavior and tells him that he should “consider his position”. I would have expected in a proper parliamentary democracy that he should have truthfully answered the questions put to him in the House of Representatives during Question Time and in doing so used the authority of the Parliament to reprimand his 2IC rather than calling “a presser”.

    There is a very interesting article on the history, roles and regulations of Ministerial Staffers in The Conversation.

  16. Kaye Lee


    Good link from the Conversation. It is definitely a conversation we should be having.

    Ted Mack brought up the same problem in his 2013 Henry Parkes Oration.

    “Over the last 30 years politicians’ staff has increased dramatically. At federal level there are now some 17 hundred personal staff to ministers and members. The states probably account for over two thousand more. Add to this the direct political infiltration of federal-state public services and quangos with hundreds more jobs for the boys and girls, there is now a well-established political class.

    This has provided the political parties with a career path for members. In many cases it often produces skilled, partisan, “whatever it takes” warriors with a richly rewarded life through local state and federal governments to a well-funded retirement. Unfortunately while this career path, as Tony Fitzgerald states, does include principled well-motivated people … it also attracts professional politicians with little or no general life experience and unscrupulous opportunists, unburdened by ethics, who obsessively pursue power, money or both.”

    As others have pointed out, public servants are accountable and can be questioned in Senate estimates – not so for “political advisers” who, let’s face it, are in the main, advertising people – spin doctors, image consultants, social media manipulators, pollsters. Public servants who give “frank and fearless advice” get the sack. They only want advice that backs up what their advertising people (and donors) tell them to do.

    No wonder Barnaby loves politics in the pub – that’s not where he announces policy, it’s where he finds it, listening to what the blokes he is having a beer with want. And what Gina wants too, of course, because one must prepare for life after politics.

  17. Glenn Barry

    Joyce, like Turnbull, is just another fluent liar, albeit with a hat, different attire from a different postcode and with an ocker snarl

  18. Hefina

    He serves his mates,why do you think his electorate wants him to stay !! Money comes freely to the
    Nationals .Turnbull wants him there so he doesn’t lose his job. Barnaby goes Turnbull is cooked.

  19. New England Cocky

    If Barnyard is the best leader of the National Party then why are all the other Nationals politicians worse??

    Barnyard has done bugger all for New England, in true National Party style, just like Ian Sinclair (NP) and the never present “What’s his name”, before Tony Windsor dragged New England screaming in protest against the 21st century.

    Now Barnyard appears to be part of a plot to permanently close the mothballed Great Northern Railway (GNR) to ensure that the Northern Inland Railway project (NIR) having CEO John Anderson, former leader of the National Party, who was reported as receiving about $700 MILLION for the project in the 2017 Federal Budget.

    Closing the GNR by making the 38Km section between Guyra and Ben Lomond a Rail Trail would close the present main north south rail link and require the NIR to be built EVEN THOUGH THE BLACK SOILS HAVE BEEN KNOWN FOR OVER 100 YEARS TO BE UNSUITABLE FOR RAILWAYS. It is already known that the black soils are unable to support the about 50 tonne per axle weight loads required for long double stacked 40ft containers to be transported when the soil is dry, while it is common knowledge locally that driving across black soils after rain is almost a guaranteed bogging up to at least the axles.

    The above Rail Trail proposal is sponsored by known LNP supporters including the former Administrator, now Councilllor, in Armidale Regional Council, NSW MLC Scott Macdonald, Holla Marshall, Minister for Good Times and sometime Member for Northern Tablelands (NP) and various LNP sycophants. Barnyard had two properties within the Santos CSG leases near the proposed but untenable western NIR route through Narrabri.

    However, there has been no mention whatever of a Rail Trail on the long defunct Guyra to Dorrigo rail line that was abandoned during the 1929 Depression. The track bed is reported as being formed for about 60 km and would make an excellent tourist Rail Trail with few cuttings. In contrast, the Guya Ben Lomond proposal requires ripping up the existing tracks, rather than using the trackside service road as occurs in all other NSW Rail Trails.

    Is this just another case of “Mates helping Mates”, right??

  20. John Kelly

    “The best retail politician in the country.” What does that even mean? It’s the sort of claim one makes on the hop that nobody understands but it sounds interesting enough, so it must be true. He is the biggest political buffoon, but as he comes from Queensland, perhaps they think bufoon and retail mean the same thing.

  21. Pappinbarra Fox

    What is the difference between Barnaby asking a mate to pay his rent and Dastiari asking a mate to pay a bill? A: DASTIARI resigned

  22. Margaret

    Is he modelling his political style on Donald Trump?

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